BROKEN SHORE SCENARIO. HORDE VERSION FEEDBACK.
Due to Horde version of the scenario being released I wanted to post a feedback regarding it's realisation. With taking into account that there's still some missing cutscenes I still have a few problems with how the story elements are being portrayed during the gameplay segments we have available right now. I'll be going over them point by point:
1. Sylvanas stealing the spotlight
Having set the precedent for seeing Kings and Warchiefs getting a respectable amount of screen-time to get hands-on when there's action to be had; this is the first time Vol'jin is allowed to join in on this trend during the Horde's broken shore event, and to give credit where credit is due you do let him act as both commander and fighter on-screen this time. This was a step in the right direction.
… until Sylvanas entered the scene. At which point he goes mostly mute and becomes little more than stage decoration. Sylvanas upstages him entirely, with Varian interacting with her instead of Vol'jin; giving orders as if she's already inherited the title of Warchief.
You'd imagine Varian would rather speak to the Warchief than his subordinate. Specially when Varian already was confronting Vol'Jin before.
Given that this is not only Vol'jin's first time where he acts as Warchief since he got the position, but also quite possibly his last , this is a huge disservice to the character.
That's not to say that Sylvanas's influence and presence should be eliminated entirely, instead I'll suggest a few potential improvements:
Firstly, Varian should primarily be communicating with Vol'jin. At this point in time, he's the Warchief, not Sylvanas. Secondly, give Vol'jin and Sylvanas equal opportunities to give commands; maybe she's the only one who gives commands to her rangers and only Vol'jin gets to address the Horde as a whole. Alternatively, maybe she can offer Vol'jin suggestions or occasionally clue him in on things the same way Thrall does, with him subsequently issuing a command in accordance with her observations.
Doing this will make both appear active: It legitimizes Vol'jin's status as Warchief while also giving Sylvanas enough of an influence so that her setup as successor isn't entirely missing.
There is also something that feels a bit weird here – why Sylvanas is the one that answers Gul'Dan and Tirion when she didn't really had any interaction with them, at least with Gul'Dan that is. Shouldn't it make more sense for Thrall to actually interact with them as he did deal with both of them in the past – with Tirion as Warchief of the Horde, and with Gul'dan during his WoD campaign?
So in the end it feels that you really want to focus only on Sylvanas, even if that doesn't really make sense at times, and it's done in rather rushed and forceful manner.
2. Mood dissonance
From your arrival back on Durotar's shores to the moment you're lead inside Grommash Hold by Saurfang you set the mood well enough, but just when the melancholy is supposed to be setting in as the dialogue between the various faction leaders plays out in the throne room; Gallywix's line comes across as entirely misplaced and jarring... We get it, he's a Goblin, he has no common sense and he's primarily concerned about profits, but doing it to even this extent, when the Warchief is allegedly dying is a bit much.
His line is basically ruining the mood, and it feels like you don't treat this situation seriously yourself. It's quite evident when you compare how much details you put on Alliance version.
There's no moment like Genn not wanting to be there because he's seen too much suffering, or Anduin crying when he reads the letter given to him.
Speaking of mood dissonance, seeing as there's no cinematic showing the transition from Grommash Hold to the funeral pyre, I'm not going to make any claims that there isn't a speech - but I really hope there's a speech of some kind, preferrably by someone from the Darkspears to reflect on the distress and desire for payback the tribe as a whole has got to be feeling at the time. Because as it stands it looks as if the whole funeral is, from both a meta and in-universe perspective, being held with such a lack of ceremony that it comes across as disrespectful.
It only becomes about pledging to Sylvanas, as if Vol'jin isn't even (allegedly) burning right behind her, and the exchange between her, Lor'themar Theron and Baine is wooden and generic. Them saying "For the Horde" in response to "the Horde shall endure" might be what people expect, but I'd consider that much more apropriate than the mundane replies of "Indeed it shall/Well said".
It really doesn't feel right.
I also have hard time believeing that any Hordie – especially Darkspear one would so eagerly pledge loyalty when his chieftain is still burning. I think it would be in better taste to leave the pledge for another time, or give option to say „I don't trust you, but I'll serve the Horde”.
Since Honestly Sylvanas never gave any reason to be this trusted by the rest of the Horde, the last time she was commanding Horde forces was in Pit of Saron where she wasted the troops, called them „pathetic weaklings”, and later let the survivors of the Pit be killed again by the Scourgelord.
And lastly- why isn't Thrall there? given how prominent their friendship is supposed to be? On the Alliance side it's at least mentioned that Genn is absent because he's overwhelmed by grief.
I hope this is addressed either in the cutscenes or otherwise.
3.Where's my mummification?
While you haven't gone into written detail about the tradition and cultural customs of the Trolls and Darkspears as much as I would've liked, almost every art asset in-game related to dead Trolls implies that they're mummified and then either buried/placed in catacombs or placed in a circular basket filled with sand/soil. Trolls have only ever been shown to cremate the dead in Northrend, when there was a greater threat of being resurrected.
I can't imagine it's because Sylvanas is present, given how little objection (if any) I can see to her new position as Warchief. It would be strange for them to take such distrustful precautionary actions, so considering this it's rather odd that they would break tradition with someone as significant as the tribe's very Chieftain...
And it's very unlikely that Darkspears would leave Sylvanas deal with Vol'Jin's remains. It's just so weird that no troll protested against it, specially when this race holds traditions very dearly.
I hope this will be addressed and explained, again, either in the cutscenes or otherwise...
4. Odd ressurections - Ain't you dead, mon?
This is a smaller nitpick, but Shadow Hunter Spar'kuhl is visible during the funeral, showing his respect along with the rest of the Darkspear... Which is rather peculiar considering he died in alternate universe Nagrand, his spirit was dancing in our garrison, and in quest you were meant to send him to Bwonsamedi.
Probably just a mistake, and not that I mind seeing more Trolls brought back to life considering we don't have many left – none of which have been developed much anyway.
But if you really wanted to bring someone back to life, it would be highly appreciated if you'd retcon Torunscar's death. His involvement in Cataclysm was huge, it was finally a growing Darkspear shaman hero along with charismatic Norsala. It was a huge waste seeing him being thrown away in Dungeon. He was not just generic NPC that walked around in one place, he was the one who was negotiating with Therazane and in Twilight Highland he was the one who was organising Earthen Ring movement. He did more than Nobundo ever did and yet it's Nobundo who is now the prime character in Shaman class hall.
Bottomline is that I don't really think that killing of Vol'Jin was even necessary. Sylvanas could've easily still get her development in Stormheim while he remains as Warchief. He could lead assault against Naga in Azsuna – Darkspear's hated enemy. There was so much potential for Darkspear Chieftain to work around, I just don't understand what was the point of it, and it really is becoming a great fatigue for a Horde player seeing how constantly the head of the faction is changing.
If this was a matter of «balance», then it's not even remotely "balanced"; Varian has gotten so much more attention and exposure than Vol'jin has, Varian appeared in many books, he was part of many quests, scenarios, cut-scenes and he was even given cinematic along with a picture on Broken shore loading Screen. Vol'Jin is already everywhere replaced by Sylvanas, while he barely got the seat and was not given a chance to do anything.
Also in Varian's case you've steadily been preparing a sucessor. So now not only will the Darkspears be without a leader after the event, it'll be without any prominent or developed characters. I'm not sure if you realise that with this move you killed not just the only prominent Darkspear hero, but the only prominent troll hero that remained so already well established and popular character that is Sylvanas could have her spotlight.
It's also quite jarring that when we bring again the funeral scene for Varian you rebuilded entire Park, for Vol'Jin you gave urn. There is enormous disproportion of tribute given.
Not to mention it feels very artificial that two(three even if you count Tirion) faction leaders died at the same time.